My Life Section

Everything about my life changed the first time I experienced insulin shock.

Kid looking at big monster with the caption "Like many kids I had an invisible companion, the difference for me, was I needed to keep mine under a constant control".Up until that point, what I had been experiencing was a phase called "the honeymoon period" a kind of in-between stage of Juvenile Diabetes where my islet cells were still producing some insulin, but they were disappearing fast and I depended on injections of insulin to survive. Our
family doctor had suggested a specialist in the nearest city Council Bluffs, so once a month after I'd finished my morning paper route, my mother and I would would get in the car an make the hour trek to the clinic there. Once we arrived I would have a blood sample taken, we would go out to eat and return usually in the afternoon for a visit with the doctor who would adjust my insulin dosage based the results of the test that morning. Since we always had a few free hours my mother would drive me over to, across the Missouri river, to the city of Omaha.

It was during one of these visits as I was browsing in the Science Fiction book section of a department store when I became strangely fascinated, with the covers. The illustrations, or parts of them, seemed to come alive. I started having a strange feeling that came on suddenly, I had difficulty understanding where I was, I began to hear voices, all around me, they were muffled, as though coming from behind an invisible wall of cotton. I tried to concentrate on the voices but as hard as I could I found it difficult to even think. Everything in reality went out of proportion time slowed, or did everything speed up? The world began to blur, I felt in a chilling way that the life-force within me was rapidly becoming depleted I felt like I was drowning but I didn't know how to stop what was happening to me. Then reality itself changed from a flow of continuity into a series of impressions or "snapshots" with a sharp blank gaps of nothingness between them. My hands began to shake uncontrollably and it took all of my energy to keep my eyes from rolling up into my head and away from the world. There was nothing I could do to stop them. I felt I was experiencing the end of my life, m y next impression was of falling through a deep,deep void. Then I stopped,

Image of face. Caption: I found myself in my adult body. I looked into the face of God and experienced a sense of perfect goodness and light.Next I was standing in a perfect version of my adult body, I was surrounded by stars and galaxies, in the center of this was a shaft of glowing white light, I went over to it, held it, it was like a glowing sword, I looked in to it and the face of God and experienced the sensation of overwhelming goodness and light.

The next thing I knew was that I was eight years old again, lying on the cool hard floor of the department store, with the sweet taste of orange juice in my mouth and my mother and the department store the physician, looking over me.

The experience felt as though God himself, had hit me in the back of the head and shouted WAKE UP! From then on I knew I could never again take anything in my life, and especially my life for granted.

My paperback "manual for Diabetes" had never prepared me for anything as intense as this, Everything in my life had changed. I had experienced the sensation my own life suddenly pulled away from under my feet and replaced by something even greater, and just as mysterious.

Picture of my mother and myself with the caption "Thanks to my mothers support, I felt I was just like any other normal kid".I felt that I was alive for a reason, just as I knew that each time I felt some strange feeling in my growing body that it could be a precursor to something very dangerous. I would continue to take my injections, (three a day) on schedule, have meals according to the diet plan given to us by my doctor and go to school, yet despite the sensation of being surrounded by a calm atmosphere of normalcy, still I was aware that there was something about me that was very different from other people, and there was nothing that my parents or anyone else could do about it.

One day when I had come home from school for lunch, my father, not my mother was there, he had me sit down on my bed and told me that my mother had just been taken to the hospital and that he didn't have enough money to pay all the bills especially for all my medicine and doctoring and that he was going to write a letter to Boys Town, a local orphanage and I would have to go on from there.

Fortunately my mothers condition wasn't as bad as was first thought, and me having to leave home never happened.A picture of my father with his head in his hands with the caption "I didn't understand then, that the burden my father carried of my medical expenses, would be the same weight that I would someday also bear alone, and for the rest of my life".School had become a difficult, since my insulin dosages were based on my usual morning high blood sugar levels. I had much more "long acting" insulin than I needed, causing my blood sugar levels to suddenly drop after the smallest the physical effort.

I carried candy bars or sugar cubes with me like religious relics all in preparation for the blood sugar lows which I experienced several times a day. I would sometime become dumbly obsessed, thinking the same things over, and over again, once my mother found me pouring milk into the stereo, as though I was trying to feed my self by feeding the music.

I remember standing in front of a math class with a problem on the black board and just looking at it dumbly with the class laughing at me. What was wrong? Was I really so stupid?
There was a girl who I liked in that class, but when I saw her at a dance later that week, and she wouldn't even speak to me.

I had begun to put on extra weight, the reason I now know was because I was taking in extra calories to recover from my insulin lows, and eating to maintain a schedule and diet rather than feeding my natural appetite. I began to feel ashamed of my bulging waistline, just I had begun to experience periods of depression and despair. For what was supposed to be the best years of our lives, most of the people my age were having a great time. For me however it was the first instance of how it felt to hit a barrier that you could not see or reason with, and I that I lacked the experience or understanding of how deal with it.

I look back now, and realize, how difficult it is for a young person, to face the unknown, especially when it carried with it the possibility of their own mortality, without first understanding life, their place in it, and who they are.

I carried a candy bar or some sugar cubes with me at all times. Whenever I felt the least bit unusual I would check, were my palms sweaty, was there any trembling or shaking in my fingers? Sometimes I would be in the middle of class at school and one of these "shaky spells" would begin, I would try making as little disruption as possible unwrap a candy bar
then wolf it down. It didn't help knowing that not only this was pretty strange behavior to begin with, but I also knew that many of my classmates had been told that people like me were forbidden to eat sugar or candy in the first place. The part of school I hated most was gym class everyone had to dress in the same in simple T-shirts and shorts, with no pockets. I always held back, always taking the outfield position as much as possible to avoid burning up too much energy and having an insulin reaction.

Since my parents had let me take my own injections, I learned to take a bit less insulin than my doctor's had prescribed, but I was having fewer "shaky spells", and therefore felt more confident about myself and my ability to be on my own.

My emerging sense of independence also fostered a strong sense of rebellion as I began to hate uniformity, conformity, being in groups, told what to do, schedules, rules, authority, and sometimes even being around people. The reason was, when I was on my own I didn't feel as though I was different, I didn't even think of my self as a Diabetic.
When I was by myself, all I felt was, normal.

I began to use my free time to exercise, hiking, bike riding, aerobics, anything that was noncompetitive. I listen to music while doing this making my own cassette tapes from records, I felt good when I was active and felt better about my looks having put on a few muscles in the process.